USG makes changes, Tech affected

Photo by Jon Drews

A recent meeting of the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents (USG) addressed a number of items regarding Tech’s future.

The Sept. 15 meeting opened with a discussion of new requirements for entering freshmen at USG institutions, including Tech. Beginning in the academic year of 2017–2018, new freshmen can fulfill their foreign language requirements for admission with upper-level computer science credits.

“Part of the change involved high school graduation requirements that have evolved over the years to include computer programming classes that require coding skills,” said Sonja Roberts, marketing and communications coordinator for USG.  “It is not necessarily a bypass but rather another option that enables a student to complete this particular portion of the college freshmen admission requirement criteria.”

The Committee of Academic Affairs responsible for the aforementioned report went on to present a proposal from Tech’s President G.P. “Bud” Peterson to reestablish the Love Family Professorship in Chemical and Biomedical Engineering to comprise of two professorships.

“The redesignation reflects modifications to the donor agreement that afford the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering the flexibility in determining the deployment of distributions from the fund,” according to the proposal, “to support any combination of faculty positions to meet the needs of the academic unit.” The first new professors under the redefined program are Hang Lu, Ph.D., and Chris Jones, Ph.D. The Love Family fund used to support the professorships is currently comprised of $1.5 million.

During the a meeting of the  Committee on Economic Development, Dr. James Weyhenmeyer of Georgia State presented an update on GSU and Tech’s joint effort to implement an i6 Challenge grant in Atlanta’s entrepreneurial community.

The $500,000 grant is part of a national competition run by the U.S. Department of Commerce to identify areas in which startup creation and innovation can be fostered.

“The intent of the EDA I6 award is to foster the growth of innovation-led economic development activities through entrepreneur support, and development of ecosystems concentrating on the startup community,” Roberts said.

Working in conjunction with GSU and the Atlanta University Center, Tech’s contributions (led by Lynne Henkiel, director of technology innovation practices & entrepreneurial partnerships) to the project will span from research initiatives and business models to investors and mentors to new start-ups in Atlanta.

Finally, the Committee on Real Estate and Facilities provided a series of updates on Tech’s ongoing construction projects, the first being renovations to the O’Keefe Building, which will consist of $5.5 million in new office and support space on the first and third floors of the O’Keefe for Facilities Management, Design, and Construction staff. The second is a new “Living Building,” funded in part by a $30 million grant from the Kendeda Fund, which will aim to have a net zero environmental impact and an opening by late 2018. Both of these projects’ budgets have been incorporated into the University System’s request for funding for the upcoming year, which has been sent to Governor Deal awaiting his final approval.

Jennifer Abrams, Tech’s undergraduate SGA president and Eric Johnston, president of Tech’s chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, were present at the meeting.

“I always enjoy getting to sit in on their meetings and hearing about the great work the Regents are doing for higher education in our state,” Abrams said.